Walt Disney World

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This year we decided to forego the traditional Thanksgiving holiday at home and instead, over the river and through the woods, to Orlando we will go! So, piling in the family truckster, our Disney World Thanksgiving Extravaganza begins! Yesterday afternoon, we arrived at Hilton’s Tuscany Village Resort, one of our favorite hotels…an oasis in the middle of the city.

Tuscany

and today, “HAPPY THANKSGIVING”, we were up early and off to the Magic Kingdom…

To Orlando!

posing for selfies on the tram…

Mom and Alex Mom and Alex

and, of course stopping for even more pictures before Mom would let us enter Main Street USA! Fearlessly, Adam inquired, “Why do we have to take so many pictures?” That’s a rhetorical question, right? Cause I ain’t touching it with a 10-foot pole! 😛

Magic Kingdom Entrance

Anyway, once we crossed the threshold we headed to Tomorrowland so the boys could race the Grand Prix. This is a “must ride” every time we visit…and Adam, like Ricky Bobby, knows if you’re not first, you’re last!

The park was pretty crowded today, but we got around pretty well by timing our Fast Passes to take advantage of shows, like the “Hall of Presidents”, and fast moving lines, like Alex’s favorite ride, “The People Mover.”

We did endure one long line for “Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin”…not exactly sure why, but it did give Adam and I a chance to ride it, as we normally split the Fast Passes for this ride, which Alex likes, and “Space Mountain”, which Adam likes…

Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin

By late afternoon, we had been moving non-stop and it was time to take a break for Thanksgiving Dinner. So, we headed back to Tuscany Village for a GREAT Thanksgiving spread! The food was great and there was A LOT of it! After dinner, we went back to the room and rested-up for our return to the Magic Kingdom to see the lights and fireworks!

Naturally, and to Adam’s chagrin, we had to take more pictures…

Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree

but it was worth it!

Christmas Castle Christmas Castle

and once more before we leave!

Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree

Tomorrow, we’re off to my favorite park: Disney Hollywood Studios!

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I’ve had to leave for a couple of days to attend a meeting for work. So, Mom and the boys hung around the resort and soaked-up the sun by the pool.

But they still need to eat dinner, right? Tonight, Cindy took ’em to the WDW Contemporary Resort for a sit-down with Chef Mickey…

Chef

and Pluto (he’s the one in the middle)!

Chef Mickey

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Today’s adventure was Walt Disney World…and Splash Mountain! It was the last ride of the day for us. Alex was looking forward to climbing in that hollowed-out log ALL DAY LONG. After the log SPLASHED into the briar patch and we were on our way out, Adam said, “I’m so HAPPY!” He really, really wanted to get wet…and he did!

Splash Mountain

What I enjoy most about this ride is its themed after the Disney flick, Song of the South. Although there’s no sign of Uncle Remus anywhere, you see Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Bear in all the little stories Uncle Remus told in the movie.

Unfortunately, this movie isn’t available anymore from Disney because of the supposed racism it contains. Of course, the movie isn’t racist at all. Anyway, I recently obtained a a copy ripped from an old VHS tape and showed it to the boys. They enjoyed the movie and just loved Uncle Remus (just as I did when I was a kid). While we were winding our way through the Remus’ story, the boys are pointing out all the characters they know and singing along…

♬ ♬ Zip-A-Dee-Do-DAH ♬ ♬

It’s nice that despite all the stupid “PC” garbage these days, we can still find our “Laughing Place”

Song of the South

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{{ YAWN }} We’re up early and heading to Epcot…

Epcot Entrance

Our first stop? A Fast-Pass to “Mission Space”…

Mission Space

Where we board a simulator for an exciting mission to Mars. Adam, of course, loves the adventure, and naturally, assumes the Pilot’s role; Alex, on the other hand, is a bit cautious and after a bit of prodding, take his seat in the Captain’s chair…

Mission Space Mission Space

In the end, though, Alex came through and with his leadership, our mission was successful. He’s thrilled (it’s over) 😉

Alex and Dad

The park was not very crowded today, which made it much easier to get through the lines at Spaceship Earth, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and The Circle of Life. The only ride we missed was Fast Track, which stayed at 60-90 minutes for Stand-by throughout the day (we’ll Fast-Pass this one next time).

The highlight of our Epcot adventure was Soarin’…a simulated hang-gliding ride over California landmarks. It’s really pretty cool, and feels so real that Alex was picking his feat up as we flew over the tops of trees. Basically, you buckle yourself in and your seat is lifted to the center of this OMNIMAX screen, an inverted dome-shaped screen that provides a sense of depth to the ride…

Soarin' Soarin'

Finally, we closed-out our day at Epcot with a visit to Mickey and his friends…

Mickey Goofy Minnie

Anyway, the day was still young, so we climbed aboard the Monorail and headed-over to The Magic Kingdom to ride Big Thunder Mountain, which closed just before we got on yesterday…

Alex and Mom and Big Thunder Mountain

and Alex insisted he take Adam to Tom Sawyer’s Island…

The boys on Tom Sawyer's Island

and with that, it was back to the Monorail for a return ride to Epcot where we picked-up our car and took-off for a nice dinner in town.

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First stop: The Magic Kingdom. We’re up early today to get a head-start on the crowd.

WDW Entrance

I’ve reserved a Fast Pass for Space Mountain at 9:00 a.m. and Adam is in a hurry to get started on his roller coaster weekend! Naturally, mom is in picture-taking mode as we board the tram for the park…

WDW Tram

Alex opted not to go on Space Mountain, so mom took him on what seems to be his favorite ride at Disney: The PeopleMover, which actually goes into Space Mountain.

Space Mountain

If Alex’s favorite ride is the PeopleMover, then his second favorite ride is The Grand Prix Raceway! Of course, Adam really likes it, too…

Adam Drives Alex Drives
Alex and Mom Drive Alex and Mom exit

After the race, we made our way toward Adventureland. We stopped by The Haunted Mansion, which mom and Adam went on alone, while I and a spooked Alex hung-out at the exit waiting for them to finish. Thankfully, Alex was able to summon his courage for The Pirates of the Caribbean!

Pirates of the Caribbean

The boys always get a kick out of locating Captain Jack Sparrow in various locations throughout the course of the ride…

Captain Jack Sparrow

Then the Magic Carpet…

Magic Carpet

And the Tea Cups…

Tea Cups

Later, we make our way to Frontierland to Fast-Pass Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, one of the two roller coasters at WDW that Alex likes to ride. However, just before we were to get on the ride, they closed it due to some malfunction. They gave us a pass good until the end of October that could be used on any number of rides, but we’ll likely try to swing back by the park tomorrow after Epcot.

Fortunately, the line at Splash Mountain wasn’t that long, so Mom took Adam, while Alex, who abdicated his seat on the log-ride, and I caught the raft to Tom Sawyer’s Island. This is actually one of my favorite places at Disney because there’s so much to see and it’s typically pretty quiet. Alex ran wild among the tree houses, pontoon bridges, Harper’s Mill, Injun Joes Caves, and Fort Langhorn (formerly Fort Sam Clemens) where he discovered the air rifles in the towers…

Alex on the Raft Alex Shoots

Whew! What a busy day! Now, it’s time to head back to the hotel for dinner and a good night’s sleep. After all, tomorrow will be another busy day!

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After a great night in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we were ready for a day at the park. I paid the valet for the van and we headed down the road for the short trip to the park entrance.

Animal Kingdom Entrance

We had almost an hour before the first “Fast Pass” attraction I had scheduled the day prior. We went to the gate to activate our annual pass and in the middle of the process, Cindy realized she had forgotten her ID in the car. So I (literally) ran back to the van to retrieve her ID card. Once back at the ticket booth, panting and out-of-breath, we completed the admission process (or so we thought) and preceded to the park entrance.

Bag searched, we each held our magic band up to the scanner. Everyone cleared except for me. Evidently, in the confusion of the forgotten ID situation, the ticket-taker failed to activate my ticket. So, I had to accompany an attendant to the Guest Service Office where she processed my ticket manually, and then gave us an “Fast Pass” ticket for the inconvenience. The process didn’t take too long, and the boys played with the iPads which served as park information centers.

Anyway, despite the delay, we were still on schedule to make our first “Fast Pass” experience, The Kali River Rapids ride! So, we get to the attraction entrance and head to the “Fast Pass” lane where we discovered that Adam had inadvertently changed all our fast pass selections while he was playing with the iPad in the ticket office. Needless to say, I was not too happy.

Fortunately, one of the guest service guys was there and he helped us cancel Adam’s selections and rebook our original selections. Then he have us a complementary Fast Pass ride on the Kali River Rapids. Talk about great service!

Of course, Alex didn’t think it was so great, as both he and I got soaked!!

Kids Soaked

of course, Mom and Adam got a little wet, too, but not quite as bad as me and Alex!

Family Soaked

We figured walking would help us dry-off, so we headed to the Dinoland USA looking for DINOSAUR, a time-machine themed ride. We all road aboard these “time rovers” through a lot of bumps and flashing lights. There were lots of dinosaurs, but certainly not my favorite ride…

Time Rover

After recovering from the whiplash induced by the time rover, we took in the Primeval Whirl (which was, interestingly enough, one of the attractions Adam re-scheduled us to ride). Alex wasn’t crazy about this one, so he and I sat-it-out while Mom and Alex took a whirl.

Adam and Mom Ride

By the time they finished, Alex was good-to-go, so we got back in line, so he could ride.

But the highlight of the Animal Kingdom experience was the Expedition Everist roller coaster!

Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest

We used our “Fast Pass” to get through the line quickly. Here we are going into the 80-foot drop. And despite the looks on the boys faces, they absolutely LOVED the ride! So much so, they wanted to get back in line and go again…

Expedition Everest Roller Coaster

Sometime during the day, although at this point it’s really a blur, we stopped for ice cream…

Adam eats ice cream Alex eats ice cream

Oh, and the boys jammed on some bongos, and Alex got sillier and sillier, as Adam lost more and more enthusiasm…

Bongos Bongos
Bongos Bongos
Bongos Bongos

As the day was winding down, we headed to Africa for our last attraction, the Kilimanjaro Safari. But on our way to Africa, guess who popped out of the ground?!?

Stitch

Then it was on to the safari. There were a lot of animals, rinos, elephants, but the boys really got a kick out of the giraffe that crossed in front of the truck.

Giraffe

And so, with one more look at Mt Everest, we crossed the bridge and headed back to the van, and home.

Mt Everest from the lake

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This weekend we’re having a little family getaway to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. A couple of weeks ago I purchased an annual pass for the family, so considering we make frequent trips already, this’ll actually save me a little bit of money 🙂

So, as a belated birthday present for Cindy, I booked us a room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, one of the Walt Disney World Resorts…

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Mom and the Boys

The hotel is amazing, and the guest rooms open to the ‘Savannah’, where wild animals roam. The boys thought that was pretty cool!

Animal Kingdom Lodge View

…but what they REALLY liked was the bunk bed in the room!

Bunk Beds

We’re planning on visiting the Animal Kingdom park tomorrow, so tonight we’re just going to relax and enjoy some drinks and this ginormous pool!

Animal Kingdom Lodge Animal Kingdom Lodge Pool

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